Private electricity rate hikes and CPTPP membership after the presidential election… Is it a coincidence

It seems that all of the recent Moon Jae-in administration’s major policies are aligned with the presidential election on March 9 next year. All the troublesome things that have a major impact on people’s lives, such as electricity and gas rate hikes, pension reform, and accession to the Comprehensive and Gradual Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), but that do not help votes, are all postponed until after the election. On the other hand, things that are favorable to votes, such as the isolation of the rice market (purchase by the government), are hastily implemented before the election. It cannot but be the pinnacle of irresponsibility that only looks at the presidential election.

That is the case with electricity and gas bills. Electricity rates rise in April and October, the month following the presidential election, and gas rates rise in May, July and October respectively. In the fourth quarter of next year, electricity bills will rise by 7.9% (an average of 3,590 won per month for a four-person household) and gas bills by 16.2% (4,600 won). Energy rates are inevitably going up due to an increase in fuel costs. Taking this into consideration, the government introduced a fuel cost indexation system to electricity rates earlier this year, but it undermined its purpose and blocked rate hikes until the first quarter of next year. As a result, when KEPCO’s operating loss is expected to reach 4 trillion won this year, it has reached a point where it cannot be afforded, reluctantly announcing an increase plan.

But maybe from the second quarter of next year, right after the election? The government has considered the burden on the people due to the corona virus and inflation, but who would believe it? If you were really worried about the burden on the people, you should have shared it little by little. Nevertheless, the increase in this year and the first quarter of next year was postponed until the second quarter of next year, putting a greater burden on the public at once. It cannot but be a typical ‘sammosa (朝三暮四)’.

The same is true for the submission of applications for membership in the CPTPP in April of next year. The need to join the CPTPP, the world’s largest free trade agreement, has been raised since a long time ago. However, they are hostile for fear of backlash from farmers, and this has also been delayed after the presidential election. It is also not unrelated to the vote of farmers to take market quarantine measures of 200,000 tons of rice in January next year. The government cites the reason that the price of rice has fallen compared to last year, but last year, the price of rice surged due to poor crops due to the abnormal climate. It is also not in line with the price policy. It can only be said that the government was conscious of votes that the Han city delayed the urgent pension reform to the next government. If this happens, the next president will become an ‘extreme job’ that the current government is busy with.

The election policy is also tailored to the presidential election, including spending three-quarters of next year’s budget in the first half of the year and concentrating on public jobs in January. Can the government act as an ‘election helper’ like this? The Blue House says the president’s will to neutralize the election is clear, but it keeps sounding empty.

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